A reluctant leader

One aspect of Francis’ changing life that has attracted recent attention is the movement of Francis from solitary figure, living a quasi-hermetical life for four to five years, now beginning to live in a growing community of brothers – all of whom are looking to Francis for spiritual and communal leadership. There was something attractive about Francis, his way of following the gospel, and perhaps the recent “commissioning” by Pope Innocent III gave a certain cache of legitimacy to this way of being Christian in the world. Eventually many people came to join the Franciscan movement, which soon enough became a religio and eventually an ordo, but those demarcations are eight to ten years in the future ahead of the Spring of 1209.

Virtually all scholars agree that Francis, at this point, did not envision his group to be more than a small group of men living an evangelical life in common. But there are also no indications that Francis thought too far ahead in any matter at this point in his life. Things just seemed to unfold, signs appeared along the way, and Francis followed the path in faith. And people followed Francis.  Whether he liked it or not, Francis was their leader. Continue reading

Cast Away

The prophet Micah preached to Jerusalem, but he was not from the city. He was an outsider from the farming village of Moresheth in the Judean foothills. You can imagine how the people, priests, and temple prophets received his prophecies of death, doom, pestilence and punishment. I am sure they would have liked to cast him away, tossed outside the city walls.

Where some prophets are rejected because the town knows them too well, e.g., Jeremiah and Jesus, other are rejected because the listeners assume their town of origin automatically dismisses them. In our own day, we too have trouble recognizing and accepting the prophets. They tend to chip away at the edges of our consciences and memory where lies guilt, remorse and regret; and too often, hesitancy to acknowledge our fault and seek reconciliation. They are the things we too should cast away outside the walls of our lives.

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